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Full text of "Decrees and canons of the Vatican Council"

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DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION 



ON THE CATHOLIC FAITH. 
Pius, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God, 

WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE SACRED COUNCIL, 

FOR Perpetual Remembrance. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and 
Redeemer of Mankind, before returning to his heavenly 
Father, promised that He would be with the Church 
Militant on earth all days, even to the consummation 
of the world. Therefore, He has never- ceased to be 
present with His beloved Spouse, to assist her when 
teaching, to bless her when at work, and to aid her 
when in danger. And this His salutary providence, 
which has been constantly displayed by other innumer- 
able benefits, has been most manifestly proved by the 
abundant good results which Christendom has derived 
from CEcumenical Councils, and particularly from that 
of Trent, although it was held in evil tim.es. For, as a 
consequence, the sacred doctrines of the faith have 
been defined more closely, and set forth more fully, er- 
rors have been condemned and restrained, ecclesiastical 
discipline has been restored and more firmly secured, 
the love of learning and of piety has been promoted 
among the clergy, colleges have been established to 



4 Decrees and Canons 

educate youth for the sacred warfare, and the morals 
of the Christian world have been renewed by the more 
accurate training of the faithful, and by the more fre- 
quent use of the sacraments. Moreover, there has re- 
sulted a closer communion of the members with the 
visible head, an increase of vigor in the whole mystical 
body of Christ, the multiplication of religious congrega- 
tions and of other institutions of Christian piety, and 
such ardour in extending the kingdom of Christ 
throughout the world, as constantly endures, even to 
the sacrifice of life itself 

But while we recall with due thankfulness tnese and 
other signal benefits which the divine mercy has be- 
stowed on the Church, especially by the last CEcume- 
nical Council, we cannot restrain our bitter sorrow for 
the grave evils, which are principally due to the fact 
that the authority of that sacred Synod has been con- 
temned, or its wise decrees neglected, by many. 

No one is ignorant that the heresies proscribed by 
the Fathers of Trent, by which the divine magisterium 
of the Church was rejected, and all matters regarding 
religion were surrendered to the judgment of each in- 
dividual, gradually became dissolved into many sects, 
which disagreed and contended with one another, until 
at length not a few lost all faith in Christ. Even the 
Holy Scriptures, which had previously been declared 
the sole source and judge of Christian doctrine, began 
to be held no longer as divine, but to be ranked among 
the fictions of mythology. 

Then there arose, and too widely overspread the 
world, that doctrine of rationalism, or naturalism, 
which opposes itself in every way to the Christian re- 



of the Vatican Council. 5 

ligion as a supernatural institution, and works with the 
utmost zeal in order that, after Christ, our sole Lord 
and Saviour, has been excluded from the minds of 
men, and from the life and moral acts of nations, the 
reign of what they call pure reason or nature may be 
established. And after forsaking and rejecting the 
Christian religion, and denying the true God and His 
Christ, the minds of many have sunk into the abyss of 
Pantheism, Materialism, and Atheism, until denying 
rational nature itself and every sound rule of right, they 
labour to destroy the deepest foundations of human 
society. 

Unhappily, it has yet further come to pass that, 
while this impiety prevailed on every side, many even 
of the children of the Catholic Church have strayed 
from the path of true piety, and by the gradual diminu- 
tion of the truths they held, the Catholic sense became 
weakened in them. For, led away by various and 
strange doctrines, utterly confusing nature and grace, 
human science and divine faith, they are found to de- 
prave the true sense of the doctrines which our Holy 
Mother Church holds and teaches, and endangering the 
integrity and the soundness of the faith. 

Considering these things, how can the Church fail to 
be deeply stirred? for, even as God wills all men to be 
saved, and to arrive at the knowledge of the truth ; 
even as Christ came to save what had perished, and to 
gather together the children of God who had been dis- 
persed, so the Church, constituted by God the mother 
and teacher of nations, knows its own office as debtor 
to all, and is ever ready and watchful to raise the fallen, 
to support those who are falling, to embrace those who 



6 Decrees and Canons 

return, to confirm the good and carry them on to better 
things. Hence, it can never forbear from witnessing 
to and proclaiming the truth of God, which heals all 
things, knowing the words addressed to it : *' My Spirit 
that is in thee, and my words that I have put in thy 
mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, from hence- 
forth and for ever" (Isaias lix. 21). 

We, therefore, following the footsteps of our prede- 
cessors, have never ceased, as becomes our supreme 
Apostolic office, from teaching and defending Catholic 
truth, and condemning doctrines of error. And now, 
with the Bishops of the whole world assembled round us 
and judging with us, congregated by our authority, and 
in the Holy Spirit, in this CEcumenical Council, we, sup- 
ported by the Word of God written and handed down 
as we received it from the Catholic Church, preserved 
v/ith sacredness and set forth according to truth, — have 
determined to profess and declare the salutary teaching 
of Christ from this Chair of Peter and in sight of all, 
proscribing and condemning, by the power given us of 
God, all errors contrary thereto 



CHAPTER I. 
THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS. 



The Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church believes 
and confesses that there is one true and living God, 
Creator and Lord of heaven and earth. Almighty, 
Eternal, Immense, Incomprehensible, Infinite in intel- 



of the Vatican Council, 7 

ligence, in will, and in all perfection, who, as being one, 
sole, absolutely simple and immutable spiritual sub- 
stance, is to be declared as really and essentially dis- 
tinct from the world, of supreme beatitude in and from 
Himself, and ineffably exalted above all things which 
exist, or are conceivable, except Himself. 

This one only true God, of His own goodness and 
almighty power, not for the increase or acquirement of 
His own happiness, but to manifest His perfection by 
the blessings which He bestows on creatures, and with 
absolute freedom of counsel, created out of nothing, 
from the very first beginning of time, both the spiritual 
and the corporeal creature, to wit, the angelical and the 
mundane and afterwards the human creature, as par- 
taking, in a sense, of both, consisting of spirit and of 
body. 

God protects and governs by His Providence all 
things which He hath made, "reaching from end to 
end mightily, and ordering all things sweetly " (Wisdom 
viii. i). For '* all things are bare and open to His 
eyes " (Heb. iv. 13), even those which are yet to be by 
the free action of creatures. 



CHAPTER H. 

OF REVELATION 



The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches 
that God, the beginning and end of all things, may be 
certainly known by the natural light of human reason, 



8 Decrees and Canons 

by means of created things; "for the invisible things 
of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, 
being understood by the things that are made " (Ro- 
mans i. 20), but that it pleased His wisdom and bounty 
to repeat Himself, and the .eternal decrees of His will, 
to mankind by another and a supernatural way : as the 
Apostle says, " God, having spoken on divers occasions, 
and many ways, in times past, to the fathers by the 
prophets ; last of all, in these days, hath spoken to us 
by His Son '' (Hebrews i. I, 2). 

It is to be ascribed to this divine revelation, that 
such truths among things divine as of themselves are 
not beyond human reason, can, even in the present 
condition of mankind, be known by every one with 
facility, with firm assurance, and with no admixture of 
error. This, however, is not the reason why revelation 
is to be called absolutely necessary ; but because God 
of His infinite goodness has ordained man to a super- 
natural end, viz : to be a sharer of divine blessings 
which utterly exceed the intelligence of the human 
mind : for " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither 
hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God 
hath prepared for them that love Him " (i Cor ii. 9). 

Further, this supernatural revelation, according to 
the universal belief of the Church, declared by the 
Sacred Synod of Trent, is contained in the written 
books and unwritten traditions which have come down 
to us, having been received by the Apostles from the 
mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles them- 
selves, by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, have been 
transmitted, as it were, from hand to hand. And these 
books of the Old and New Testament are to be received 



of the Vatican Cotmcil, 9 

as sacred and canonical, in their integrity, with all their 
parts, as they are enumerated in the decree of the said 
Council, and are contained in the ancient Latin edition 
of the Vulgate. These the Church holds to be sacred 
and canonical not because, having been carefully com- 
posed by mere human industry, they were afterwards 
approved by her authority, nor merely because they 
contain revelation, with no admixture of error, but be- 
cause, having been written by the inspiration of the 
Holy Ghost, they have God for their author, and have 
been delivered as such to the Church herself. 

And as the things which the Holy Synod of Trent 
decreed for the good of souls concerning the interpreta- 
tion of Divine Scripture, in order to curb rebellious 
spirits, have been wrongly explained by some, We, 
renewing the said decree, declare this to be their 
sense, that, in matters of faith and morals, appertain- 
ing to the building up of Christian doctrine, this is to 
be held as the true sense of Holy Scripture which our 
Holy Mother Church hath held and holds, to whom it 
belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation 
of the Holy Scripture ; and therefore that it is per- 
mitted to no one to interpret the Sacred Scripture con- 
trary to this sense, nor, likewise, contrary to the unani- 
mous consent of the Fathers. 



CHAPTER HI. 

ON FAITH. 



Man being wholly dependent upon God, as upon 
his Creator and Lord, and created reason being abso- 



lO Decrees and Cafions 

lutely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound to yield 
to God, by faith in His revelation, the full obedience 
of our intelligence and will. And the Catholic Church 
teaches that this faith, which is the beginning of man's 
salvation, is a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired 
and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the 
things which He has revealed are true ; not because 
of the intrinsic truth of the things, viewed by the 
natural light of reason, but because of the authority of 
God Himself who reveals them, and Who can neither 
be deceived nor deceive. For faith, as the Apostle 
testifies, is " the substance of things hoped for, the 
^^cbnviction of things that appear not " (Hebrews i. ii). 
Nevertheless, in order that the obedience of our faith 
might be in harmony with reason, God willed that to the 
interior help of the Holy Spirit, there should be joined 
exterior proofs of His revelation ; to v/it, divine facts, 
and especially miracles and prophecies, which, as they 
manifestly display the omnipotence and infinite know- 
ledge of God, are most certain proofs of His divine 
revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all men. 
Wherefore, both Moses and the Prophets, and most 
especially, Christ our Lord Himself, showed forth 
many and most evident miracles and prophecies ; and 
of the Apostles we read : " But they going forth 
preached everywhere, the Lord working withal, and 
confirming the word with signs that followed " (Mark 
xvi. 20). And again, it is written: ''We have the 
more firm prophetical word, whereunto you do well to 
attend, as to a light shining in a dark place " (2 St. 
Peter i. 19). 

But though the assent of faith is by no means a 



of the Vatican Council, 1 1 

blind action of the mind, still no man can assent to the 
Gospel teaching, as is necessary to obtain salvation, 
without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy- 
Spirit, who gives to all men sweetness in assenting to 
and believing in the truth. Wherefore, Faith itself, 
even when it does not work by charity, is in itself a 
gift of God, and the act of faith is a work appertaining 
to salvation, by which man yields voluntary obedience 
to God Himself, by assenting to and co-operating with 
His grace, which he is able to resist. 

Further, all those things are to be believed with 
divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the 
Word of God, written or handed down, and which the 
Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordi- 
nary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief, as 
having been divinely revealed. 

And since, without faith, it is impossible to please 
God, and to attain to the fellowship of his children, 
therefore without faith no one has ever attained justi- 
fication, nor will any one attain eternal life, unless he 
shall have persevered in faith unto the end. And, that 
we may be able to satisfy the obligation of embracing 
the true faith and of constantly persevering in it, God 
has instituted the Church through His only begotten 
Son, and has bestowed on it manifest notes of that 
institution, that it maybe recognized by all men as the 
guardian and teacher of the revealed Word ; for to the 
Catholic Church alone belong all those many and ad- 
mirable tokens which have been divinely established 
for the evident credibility of the Christian Faith. Nay, 
more, the Church by itself, with its marvellous exten- 
sion, its eminent holiness, and its inexhaustible fruit- 



12 Decrees and Cano7is 

fulness in every good thing, with its Catholic unity and 
its invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive 
of credibility, and an irrefutable witness of its own 
divine mission. 

And thus, like a standard set up unto the nations 
(Isaias xi. 12), it both invites itself to those who do 
not yet believe, and assures its children that the faith 
which they profess rests on the most firm foundation. 
And its testimony is efficaciously supported by a 
power from on high. For our most merciful Lord 
gives His grace to stir up and to aid those who are 
astray, that they may come to a knowledge of the 
truth ; and to those whom He has brought out of dark- 
ness into His own admirable light He gives His grace 
to strengthen them to persevere in that light, deserting 
none who desert not Him. Therefore there is no parity 
between the condition of those who have adhered to 
the Catholic truth by the heavenly gift of faith, and 
of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false re- 
ligion ; for those who have received the faith under the 
magisterium of the Church can never have any just 
cause for changing or doubting that faith. ** There- 
fore, giving thanks to God the Father who has made 
us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in 
light, let us not neglect so great salvation, but with our 
eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our 
Faith, let us hold fast the confession of our hope with- 
out wavering " (Hebr. xii. 2, and x. 23). 



of the Vatican Council. 13 

CHAPTER IV. 

OF FAITH AND REASON. 

The Catholic Church, with one consent, has also 
ever held and does hold that there is a twofold order 
of knowledge, distinct both in principle and also in 
object ; in principle, because our knowledge in the one 
is by natural reason, and in the other by divine faith ; 
in object, because, besides those things to which natu- 
ral reason can attain, there are proposed to our belief 
mysteries hidden in God, which, unless divinely re- 
vealed, cannot be known. Wherefore the Apostle, 
who testifies that God is known by the gentiles 
through created things, still when discoursing of the 
grace and truth which come by Jesus Christ (John i. 
17) says : *' We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, 
a wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before 
the world unto our glory ; which none of the princes 
of this world knew . . . but to us God hath re- 
vealed them by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth 
all things, yea, the deep things of God " (i Cor. ii. 7-9). 
And the only-begotten Son himself gives thanks to the 
Father, because He has hid these things from the wise 
and prudent, and has revealed them to little ones (Matt. 
xi. 25). 

Reason, indeed, enlightened by faith, when it seeks 
earnestly, piously, and calmly, attains by a gift from 
God some, and that a very fruitful, understanding of 
mysteries ; partly from the analogy of those things 
which it naturally knows, partly from the relations 



14 Decrees and Cantons 

which the mysteries bear to one another and to the last 
end of man ; but reason never becomes capable of ap- 
prehending mysteries as it does those truths which 
constitute its proper object. For the divine mysteries 
by their own nature so far transcend the created in- 
telligence that, even when delivered by revelation and 
received by faith, they remain covered with the vail of 
faith itself, and shrouded in a certain degree of dark- 
ness, so long as we are pilgrims in this mortal life, not 
yet with God ; ''for we walk by faith and not by sight " 
(2 Cor. V. 7). 

But although faith is above reason, there can never 
be any real discrepancy between faith and reason, since 
the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith 
has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, 
and God cannot deny Himself, nor can truth ever con- 
tradict truth. The false appearance* of such a contra- 
diction is mainly due, either to the dogmas of faith not 
having been understood and expounded according to 
the mind of the Church, or to the inventions of opinion 
having been taken for the verdicts of reason. We de- 
fine, therefore, that every assertion contrary to a truth 
of enlightened faith is utterly false.* Further, the 
Church, which, together with the Apostolic office of 
teachings, has received a charge to guard the deposit 
of faith, derives from God the right and the duty of 
proscribing false science, lest any should be deceived 
by philosophy and vain fallacy (Coloss. il. 8). There- 

* From the Bull of Pope Leo X., Apostolici ngiminis, read in the 
VIII. Session of the Fifth Lateran Council, a.d. 1513. See Labbe's 
Councils, vol. xix., p. 842, Venice, 1732. 



of the Vatican CounciL 15 

fore all faithful Christians are not only forbidden to de- 
fend, as legitimate conclusions of science, such opinions 
as are known to be contrary to the doctrines of faith, 
especially if they have been condemned by the Church, 
but are altogether bound to account them as errors 
which put on the fallacious appearance of truth. 

And not only can faith and reason never be opposed 
to one another, but they are of mutual aid one to the 
other ; for right reason demonstrates the foundations 
of faith, and, enlightened by its light, cultivates the 
science of things divine ; while faith frees and guards 
reason from errors, and furnishes it with manifold 
knowledge. So far, therefore, is the Church from op- 
posing the cultivation of human arts and sciences, that 
it in many ways helps and promotes it. For the Church 
neither ignores nor despises the benefits to human life 
which result from the arts and sciences, but confesses 
that, as they came from God, the Lord -of all science, 
so, if they be rightly used, they lead to God by the 
help of His grace. Nor does the Church forbid that 
each of these sciences in its sphere should make use of 
its own principles and its own method ; but, while re- 
cognising this just liberty, it stands watchfully on guard, 
lest sciences, setting them-selves against the divine 
teaching, or transgressing their own limits, should in- 
vade and disturb the domain of faith. 

For the doctrine of faith which God hath revealed 
has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention, 
to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been de> 
livered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to 
be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence ako, 
that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be 



1 6 Decrees and Canons 

retained which our Holy Mother the Church has once 
declared ; nor is that meaning ever to be departed 
from, under the pretence or pretext of a deeper com- 
prehension of them. Let, then, the intelligence, science 
and wisdom of each and all, of individuals and of the 
whole Church, in all ages and all times, increase and 
flourish in abundance and vigor ; but simply in its own 
proper kind, that is to say, in one and the same doc- 
trine, one and the same sense, one and the same judg- 
ment (Vincent, of Lerins, Common, n. 28). 



CANONS. 

I. 

Of God J the Creator of all things. 

1. If any one shall deny One true God, Creator 
and Lord of things visible and invisible ; let him be 
anathema. 

2. If any one shall be not ashamed to affirm that, 
except matter, nothing exists ; let him be anathema. 

3. If any one shall say that the substance and es- 
sence of God and of all things is one and the same ; let 
him be anathema. 

4. If any one shall say that finite things, both cor- 
poreal and spiritual, or at least spiritual, have emanated 
from the divine substance ; or that the divine essence 
by the manifestation and evolution of itself becomes 
all things ; or, lastly, that God is universal or indefinite 



of the Vatican Cotmcil. 1 7 

being, which by determining itself constitutes the uni- 
versality of things, distinct according to general species 
and individuals ; let him be anathema. 

5. If any one confess not that the world, and all 
things which are contained in it, both spiritual and ma- 
terial, have been, in their whole substance, produced 
by God out of nothing ; or shall say that God created, 
not by His will, free from all necessity, but by a 
necessity equal to the necessity whereby he loves Him- 
self; or shall deny that the world was made for the 
glory of God ; let him be anathema. 



II. 

Of Revelation. 

1. If any one shall say that the One True God, our 
Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the 
natural light of human reason through created things ; 
let him be anathema. 

2. If any one shall say that it is impossible or inex- 
pedient that man should be taught, by divine revela- 
tion, concerning God and the worship to be paid to 
Him ; let him be anathema. 

3. If any one shall say that man cannot be raised by 
drvine power to a higher than natural knowledge and 
perfection, but can and ought, by a continuous progress, 
to arrive at length, of himself, to the possession of all 
that is true and good ; let him be anathema. 

4. If anyone shall not receive as sacred and canoni- 
cal the Books of Holy Scripture, entire with all their 
parts, as the Holy Synod of Trent has enumerated 



1 8 of the Vatican Council. 

them, or shall deny that they have been divinely in- 
spired ; let him be anathema. 

III. 

Of Faith. 

1. If any one shall say that human reason is so in- 
dependent that faith cannot be enjoined upon it by 
God ; let him be anathema. 

2. If any one shall say that divine faith is not dis- 
tinguished from natural knowledge of God and of moral 
truths, and therefore that it is not requisite for divine 
faith that revealed truth be believed because of the 
authority of God, Who reveals it ; let him be anathema. 

3. If any one shall say that divine revelation cannot 
be made credible by outward signs, and therefore that 
men ought to be moved to faith solely by the internal 
experience of each, or by private inspiration ; let him 
be anathema. 

4. If any one shall say that miracles are impossible, 
and therefore that all the accounts regarding them, 
even those contained in Holy Scripture, are to be 
dismissed as fabulous or mythical ; or that miracles 
can never be known with certainty, and that the divine 
origin of Christianity cannot be proved by them ; let 
him be anathema. 

5. If any one shall say that the assent of Christian 
faith is not a free act, but inevitably produced by the 
arguments of human reason ; or that the grace of God 
is necessary for that living faith only which worketh by 
charity ; let him be anathema. 

6. If any one shall say that the condition of the 



Decrees and Canofis 19 

faithful, and of those who have not yet attained to the 
only true faith, is on a par, so that Catholics may have 
just cause for doubting, with suspended assent, the 
faith which they have already received under the 
magisterium of the Church, until they shall have ob- 
tained a scientific demonstration of the credibility and 
truth of their faith ; let him be anathema. 



20 Decrees and Canons 



First Dogmatic Constitution 

ON THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. 



Published in the Fourth Session of the Holy CEciunenical 
Council of the Vatica7i. 

PIUS, BISHOP, SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD, 
WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE SACRED COUNCIL, 
FOR AN EVERLASTING REMEMBRANCE. 

The Eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls, in 
order to continue for all time the life-giving work of 
His Redemption, determined to build up the Holy 
Church, wherein, as in the House of the living God, 
all who believe might be united in the bond of one 
faith and one charity. Wherefore, before He entered 
into His glory. He prayed unto the Father, not for the 
Apostles only, but for those also who through their 
preaching should come to believe in him, that all might 
be one even as He the Son and the Father are one.* 
As then Fie sent the Apostles whom he had chosen to 
Himself from the World, as He Himself had been sent 
by the Father ; so He willed that there should ever be 
pastors and teachers in His Church to the end of the 

* St. John xvii. 21. 



of the Vatican Coicncil. 2 1 

world. And in order that the Episcopate also might 
be one and undivided, and that by means of a closely 
united priesthood the multitude of the faithful might 
be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, 
He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and 
fixed in him the abiding principle of this two-fold 
unity, and its visible foundation, in the strength of 
which the everlasting temple should arise and the 
Church in the firmness of that faith should lift her 
majestic front to heaven. And seeing that the gates 
of hell with daily increase of hatred are gathering their 
strength on every side to upheave the foundation laid by 
God's own hand, and so, if that might be, to overthrow 
the Church ; We, therefore, for the preservation, safe- 
keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the 
approval of the Sacred Council, do judge it to be neces- 
sary to propose to the belief and acceptance of all the 
faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant 
faith of the universal Church, the doctrine touching the 
institution, perpetuity, and nature of the sacred Apos- 
tolic Primacy, in which is found the strength and 
solidity of the entire Church, and at the same time to 
prescribe and condemn the contrary errors, so hurtful 
to the flock of Christ. 



CHAPTER I. 



OF THE INSTITUTION OF THE APOSTOLIC PRIMACY 
IN BLESSED PETER. 

We therefore teach and declare that, according to 
the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction 



22 Decrees and Canons 

over the universal Church of God was immediately and 
directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apos- 
tle by Christ the Lord. For it was to Simon alone, to 
whom He had already said : Thou shalt be called Ce- 
phas,'^ that the Lord after the confession made by him, 
saying- : Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, 
addressed those solemn words : Blessed art thou, Simon 
Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood have not revealed it 
to thee, but my Father who is in Heaven. And I say 
to thee that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will 
build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the 
kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind 
upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven, and what- 
soever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also 
in heaven.f And it was upon Simon alone that Jesus 
after His resurrection bestowed the jurisdiction of 
Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold in the words : 
Feed my lambs : feed my sheep. J At open variance 
with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture as it has 
been ever understood by the Catholic Church are the 
perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the 
form of government established by Christ the Lord in 
His Church, deny that Peter in his single person, pre- 
ferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken sepa- 
rately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true 
and proper primacy of jurisdiction ; or of those who as- 
sert that the same primacy was not bestowed imme- 
diately and directly upon Blessed Peter himself, but 
upon the Church, and through the Church on Peter as 
her Minister. 

* St. John i. 42. f St. Matthew xvi. 16-19. % St. John xxi. 15-17- 



of the Vatican CoimciL 23 

If any one, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter 
the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the 
Apostles and the visible Head of the whole Church 
Militant ; or that the same directly and immediately 
received from the same Our Lord Jesus Christ a pri- 
macy of honour only, and not of true and proper juris- 
diction ; let him be anathema. 



CHAPTER II. 



ON THE PERPETUITY OF THE PRIMACY OF BLESSED 
PETER IN THE ROMAN PONTIFFS. 

That which the Prince of Shepherds and great 
Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, estab- 
lished in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to 
secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the 
Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily re- 
main unceasingly in the Church ; which, being founded 
upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. 
For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that 
the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and Chief of the 
Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the 
Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom 
from Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Re- 
deemer of mankind, and lives, presides, and judges, to 
this day and always, in his successors the Bishops of the 
Holy See of Rome, which was founded by him, and 
consecrated by his blood. Whence, whosoever succeeds 
to Peter in this See, does by the institution of Christ 



24 Decrees and Canons 

Himself obtain the Primacy of Peter over the whole 
Church. The disposition made by Incarnate Truth 
therefore remains, and Blessed Peter, abiding through 
the strength of the Rock in the power that he received, 
has not abandoned the direction of the Church. 
Wherefore it has at all times been necessary that every 
particular Church — that is to say, the faithful through- 
out the world — should agree with the Rom.an Church, 
on account of the greater authority of the princedom 
which this has received ; that all being associated in 
tlie unity of that See whence the rights of communion 
spread to all might grow together as members of one 
Head in the compact unity of the body. 

If, then, any should deny that it is by the institu- 
tion of Christ the Lord, or by divine right, that Bless- 
ed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in 
the Primacy over the Universal Church, or that the 
Roman Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter in 
this primacy ; let him be anathema. 



CHAPTER III. 



ON THE POWER AND NATURE OF THE PRIMACY OF 
THE ROMAN PONTIFF. 

Wherefore, resting on plain testimonies of the Sa- 
cred Writings, and adhering to the plain and express 
decrees both of our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, 
and of the General Councils, We renew the definition 
of the OEcumenical Council of Florence, in virtue of 



of the Vatica7i Cotmcil 25 

which all the faithful of Christ must believe that the 
Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff possesses 
the primacy over the whole world, and that the Roman 
Pontiff is the successor of Blessed Peter, Prince of the 
Apostles, and is true Vicar of Christ, and Head of the 
whole Church, and Father and Teacher of all Chris- 
tians ; and that full power was given to him in Blessed 
Peter to rule, feed, and govern the Universal Church 
by Jesus Christ our Lord ; as is also contained in the 
acts of the General Councils and in the Sacred Canons. 

Hence we teach and declare that by the appoint- 
ment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a supe- 
riority of ordinary power over all other Churches, and 
that this povv'er of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, 
which is truly episcopal, is immediate ; to which all, of 
whatever rite or dignity, both pastors and faithful, 
both individually and collectively, are bound, by their 
duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, 
to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith 
and morals, but also in those that appertain to the dis- 
cipline and government of the Church throughout the 
world, so that the Church of Christ may be one flock 
under one supreme pastor through the preservation of 
unity both of communion and of profession of the same 
faith with the Roman Pontiff. This is the teaching of 
Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without 
loss of faith and of salvation. 

But so far is this power of the Supreme Pontiff 
from being any prejudice to the ordinary and immedi- 
ate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which Bishops, 
v/ho have been sent by the Holy Ghost to succeed and 
hold the place of the Apostles, feed and govern, each 



26 Decrees and Canons 

his own flock, as true Pastors, that this their episcopal 
authority is really asserted, strengthened and protected 
by the supreme and universal Pastor ; in accordance 
with the words of St. Gregory the Great: my honour 
is the honour of the whole Church. My honour is the 
firm strength of my brethren. I am truly honoured, 
when the honour due to each and all is not withheld. 
Further, from this supreme power possessed by the 
Roman Pontiff of governing the Universal Church, it fol- 
lows that he has the right of free communication with 
the Pastors of the whole Church, and with their flocks, 
that these may be taught and ruled by him in the way 
of salvation. Wherefore we condemn and reject the 
opinions of those who hold that the communication 
between this Supreme Head and the Pastors and their 
flocks can lawfully be impeded ; or who make this com- 
munication subject to the will of the secular power, so 
as to maintain that whatever is done by the Apostolic 
See, or by its authority, for the government of the 
Church, cannot have force or value unless it be con- 
firmed by the assent of the secular power. And since 
by the divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman 
Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, we further 
teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the 
faithful, and that in all causes the decision of which 
belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tri- 
bunal, and that none may re-open the judgment of the 
Apostolic See, than whose authority there is no greater, 
nor can any lawfully review its judgment.* Wherefore 
they err from the right course who assert that it is law- 

* From Letter viii. of Pope Nicholas I., a.d. S58, to the Emperor 
Michael, in Labbe's Councils, vol. ix. pp. 1339 and 1570. 



of the Vatican CotmciL 2 7 

ful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pon- 
tiffs to an CEcumenical Council as to an authority 
higher than that of the Roman Pontiff. 

If then any shall say that the Roman Pontiff has 
the office merely of inspection or direction, and not full 
and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal 
Church, not only in things which belong to faith and 
morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline 
and government of the Church spread throughout the 
world ; or assert that he possesses merely the principal 
part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power ; or 
that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and 
immediate, both over each and all the Churches and 
over each and all the Pastors and the faithful ; let him 
be anathema. 



CHAPTER IV 



CONCERNING THE INFALLIBLE TEACHING OF THE 
ROMAN PONTIFF. 

Moreover, that the supreme power of teaching is 
also included in the Apostolic primacy, which the 
Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, Prince of the 
Apostles, possesses over the whole Church, this Holy 
See has always held, the perpetual practice of the 
Church confirms, and CEcumenical Councils also have 
declared, especially those in which the East with the 
West met in the union of faith and charity. For the 
Fathers of the Fourth Council of Constantinople, fol- 
lowing in the footsteps of their predecessors, gave 



28 Decrees and Canons 

forth this solemn profession. : The first condition of 
salvation is to keep the rule of the true faith. And 
because the sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot 
be passed by, who said : Thou art Peter, and upon 
this Rock I will build my Church,* these things which 
have been said are approved by events, because in the 
Apostolic See the Catholic religion and her holy and 
well-known doctrine has always been kept undefiled. 
Desiring, therefore, not to be in the least degree sepa- 
rated from the faith and doctrine of that See, we hope 
that we may deserve to be in the one communion, 
which the Apostolic See preaches, in which is the 
entire and true solidity of the Christian religion. And, 
with the approval of the Second Council of Lyons, the 
Greeks professed that the Holy Roman Church enjoys 
supreme and full Primacy and pre-eminence over the 
whole Catholic Church, which it truly and humbly ac- 
knowledges that it has received with the plenitude of 
power from our Lord Himself in the person of the 
blessed Peter, Prince or Head of the Apostles, whose 
successor the Roman Pontiff is ; and as the Apostolic 
See is bound before all others to defend the truth of 
faith, so also if any questions regarding faith shall arise, 
they must be defined by its judgment. Finally, the 
Council of Florence defined : That the Roman Pontiff 
is the true Vicar of Christ, and the Plead of the whole 
Church, and the Father and Teacher of all Christians ; 
and that to him in blessed Peter was delivered by our 
Lord Jesus Christ the full power of feeding, ruling and 
governing the whole Church (John xxi. 15-17) 

* St. Matthew xvi. 18. 



of the Vatica7i CozmciL 29 

To satisfy this pastoral duty our predecessors ever 
inade unwearied efforts that the salutary doctrine of 
Christ might be propagated among all the nations of 
the earth, and with equal care watched that it might 
be preserved genuine and pure where it had been re- 
ceived. Therefore the Bishops of the whole world, 
now singly, now assembled in synod, following the 
long established custom of Churches, and the form of 
the ancient rule, sent word to the Apostolic See of 
those dangers especially which sprang up in matters of 
faith, that there the losses of faith might be most effec- 
tually repaired where the faith cannot fail. And the 
Roman Pontiffs, according to the exigencies of times 
and circumstances, sometimes assembling CEcumenical 
Councils, or asking for the mind of the Church scatter- 
ed throughout the world, sometimes by particular 
synods, sometimes using other helps which Divine 
Providence supplied, defined as to be held those things 
which with the help of God they had recognized as 
conformable with the Sacred Scriptures and Apostolic 
Traditions. For the Holy Spirit was not promised to 
the successors of Peter that by His revelation they 
might make known new doctrine, but that by His as- 
sistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully ex- 
pound the revelation or deposit of faith delivered 
through the Apostles. And indeed all the venerable 
Fathers have embraced and the holy orthodox Doctors 
have venerated and followed their Apostolic doctrine ; 
knowing most fully that this See of holy Peter remains 
ever free from all blemish of error according to the 
divine promise of the Lord our Saviour made to the 
Prince of His disciples : I have prayed for thee that 



30 Decrees and Canons 

thy faith fail not, and, when thou art converted, con- 
firm thy brethren.* 

This gift, then, of truth and never-failing faith was 
conferred by Heaven upon Peter and his successors in 
this Chair, that they might perform their high office 
for the salvation of all ; that the whole flock of Christ, 
kept away by them from the poisonous food of error, 
might be nourished with the pasture of heavenly doc- 
trine ; that the occasion of schism being removed from 
the whole Church, it might be kept one, and, resting 
on its foundation, might stand firm against the gates 
of hell. 

But since in this very age, in Avhich the salutary 
efficacy of the Apostolic office is most of all required, 
not a few are found who take away from its authority, 
we judge it altogether necessary solemnly to assert the 
prerogative which the only-begotten Son of God vouch- 
safed to join with the supreme pastoral office. 

Therefore faithfully adhering to the tradition re- 
ceived from the beginning of the Christian faith, for 
the glory of God Our Saviour, the exaltation of the 
Catholic Religion, and the salvation of Christian peo- 
ple, the Sacred Council approving. We teach and de- 
fine that it is a dogma divinely revealed : that the Ro- 
man Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedrd, that is, when 
in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all 
Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authori- 
ty he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be 
held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance 
promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that 

* St. Luke xxii. 32. See also the Acts of the Sixth General Council, 
A.D. 680. 



of the Vatican CotmciL 3 1 

infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed thai 
His Church should be endowed for defining dcfctrinc 
regarding faith or morals : and that therefore such de- 
finitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of them- 
selves, and not from the consent of the Church. 

But if any one — which may God avert — presume to 
contradict this Our definition ; let him be anathema. 

Given at Rome in Public Session solemnly held in the 
Vatican Basilica in the year of Our Lord one thou- 
sand eight hundred and seventy, on the eighteenth 
day of July, in the twenty-fifth year of our Pontifi- 
cate. 



>s^